South Fork Loop — Page 8

San Gorgonio Mountain and Low Desert

Sky High Trail

Sometimes the name fits perfectly. The 'Sky High' trail, consisting of the last few miles before we connect with the Vivian Creek trail for the final quarter mile to the summit, is indeed lofty.

The Sky High section takes us from due east to due south, giving us our first good look at Cochella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains, as well as that vast hazy cauldron known as the Los Angeles Basin. As mentioned earlier, the San Gorgonio Wilderness does evoke memories of the southern Sierra, and here the comparison is inescapable.

North Fork, Whitewater Canyon Granite Beach and Los Angeles Basin

On this final section traversing across San Gorgonio Mountain's south face, we are crossing exactly the same sort of giant, granite beach found on Langley's flanks.

The sandy slope slows our pace a tad despite the trail's gentle grade. That's okay—now's the time to break out the camera and marvel at the evolving spectacle of sights all around.

Today we're rewarded with a bright blue sky, light winds, warm temperatures, and relatively little haze on the horizon—perfect weather. Perhaps we should think of these views as spoilers. Can the summit really top this?

Though we're getting close to the summit, Trevor and I decide to take one last quick snack break to rest and rehydrate. As well we speculate a little about the trail designer's intentions. We've been hiking for nearly five hours now, and we're both ready to stand atop this mountain, yet the trail persists in circling rather than zeroing in on our target.

I must confess I don't think I've ever been on a trail that was so reluctant to reach its destination. On the other hand, this grand circumnavigation of the San Gorgonio massif does have its advantages, particularly in the sightseeing department. So who am I to argue? In any case, it's time to get moving again. The junction with the Vivian Creek trail—and the top of Southern California—awaits.

next: Summit

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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